Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar to assist chief selector Wahab Riaz

Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt have a mid-pitch chat Getty Images

The PCB has appointed former international cricketers Kamran Akmal, Rao Iftikhar Anjum and Salman Butt as consultant members to chief selector Wahab Riaz.

The trio will take up their role in the selection panel with immediate effect. Their first assignment as consultant members begins with Pakistan's five-match T20I series against New Zealand that gets underway from January 12 after the conclusion of their Test tour to Australia.

The PCB said that when the trio are not engaged in selection duties, they might be given additional tasks such as conducting skill camps.

Both Akmal and Anjum have had selection responsibilities before. Akmal, who represented Pakistan in 53 Tests, 157 ODIs and 58 T20Is in a career spanning 15 years before retiring from all forms of cricket this February, was named chair of PCB's Junior Selection committee earlier this year. He was also appointed chair of an eight-member selection committee, which would conduct Under-13, Under-16 and Under-19 trials for the selection of regional and district teams.

Anjum played one Test, 62 ODIs and two T20Is for Pakistan, and was part of a three-man committee when Shahid Afridi was named interim chief selector of the Pakistan men's national team alongside Abdul Razzaq later last year.

However, this is the first time former captain Butt will be assuming an official role with the PCB since his return from a long ban for his role in the spot-fixing scandal of 2010. He played 33 Tests, 78 ODIs and 24 T20Is, and was the captain when he was handed the ban. Butt never returned to Pakistan colours after that, though he did play first-class cricket and was also offered a commentator's job by the PCB in 2020.

The appointments will raise some eyebrows. Butt was banned and has served time for his role in the 2010 scandal, but both Wahab and Akmal were questioned in and around that same episode. Akmal was sent a notice by the ICC after the T20 World Cup in 2010 - much before the spot-fixing incident broke out that year - though he was later cleared to be selected by Pakistan. Akmal did not play another Test after the episode at Lord's, though he did feature in Pakistan's white-ball sides.

Wahab was also questioned by Scotland Yard in the immediate aftermath of the Lord's Test that year, but was never charged with any offence. He was appointed the new chief selector of the senior men's team two weeks back after Inzamam-ul-Haq stepped down from his position in the wake of conflict-of-interest allegations.

Much later in the day, the PCB put out a statement to say that the consultants would not have any independent decision-making powers. "Consultant members assist the chief selector by providing recommendations, collecting feedback and identifying top-performing talent in domestic cricket," it said. "Their role is to present this information to the chief selector and the selection committee for consideration in their decision-making process. The Consultant Members do not have any independent decision-making powers."

Amid the raft of changes, Mohammad Hafeez was also appointed as team director, and will also serve as Pakistan's head coach in Australia and New Zealand.

The squad for the three-match Test series in Australia was picked on November 20. The series will be Shan Masood's first as Pakistan captain after Babar Azam stepped down from the position in all formats last month.